If you haven’t figured it out already, The Newsroom, the cancelled and highly underwetched, underrated, and heavily missed HBO Dramatic series from the ingenious Aaron Sorkin is absolutely one of my all-time favourite television shows ever created. Given the quip dialogue, snappy political, social and cultural references, not to miss, its absolutely miraculous comedic timing and concurrent content, it is not only one of the best shows to ever premiere on television, but also a necessary viewing. Now if you’re thinking, why in the heck am I mentioning a television show that has nothing to do with the current movie in review, the answer is…everything!
Miss Sloane may have been made by any of the talent who brought to life The Newsroom, but add the inclusion of two of the major actors in the show, plus a very apparent and suspicious comparison in delivery of dialogue, and mix all that with one of the best satirical and comedic lobbyist films in Thank You for Smoking, Miss Sloane is a lobbyist film that falls short in over two hours of misconstrued, flashy, politically polished and governmentally red-taped dialogue that not only keeps audience members at bay for the majority of the conversations between characters, but really only keeps the hopes for viewers that the final scenes and pivotal and totally expecting twists by the films end, are so worth this long-gestated and over-winded drama.
The story is simple; Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) is the most sought after and ambitious lobbyist in D.C. Set against a world of high-stakes power-brokers, government officials and corrupt businessmen, Miss Sloane is up against her toughest opponent when she’s pitted against the heavily armed and lucratively funded arms industry of the United States of America. Leaving her own firm to join forces with a once formidable opponent Rodolfo Schmidt (Mark Strong), Miss Sloane must learn to trust people and others if she wishes to win one of the biggest cases of her life, which is something she is completely unfamiliar with. Upon learning of Miss Sloane’s departure from her current firm, Sloane is surprised in finding that not all alliances are what they seem to be, including her right-hand ally Jane Molloy (Alison Pill), who abandons Sloane and partners up with her opposition. Left with a handful of strangers and new faces, Sloane must learn to work with others or suffer the consequences of taking on too much and inevitably finding her demise to the all-too-powerful United States government and its ties to the very powerful corrupt arms organization.
While many films this year have the gracious feeling of being heavily scripted and quite theatrical, Fences and Una for example, the overtly scripted Miss Sloane has its characters reciting lines throughout the film rather than delivering them, especially since the film relies heavily on courtroom jargon that mostly takes the audience away from the story. With the exception of Jessica Chastain, who seems to relish in the highly convoluted word-play of screenwriter Jonathan Perera’s debut script, Chastain elevates to a singular level of performance and acting in Miss Sloane. It is safe and easy to say that Chastain is the singular character who carries her dialogue, the narrative and flow of the film effortlessly, while each and every actor in the film seems to be playing catch-up.
While Miss Sloane can easily be judged as a political thriller, the thrilling aspects in the film rely heavily on action/reaction shots of the highly unexpected revelations of its supporting characters. Foresight and overshadowing certain, very touchy, issues dealing with sexual abuse, violence and emotional tragedy, seems to keep Miss Sloane afloat for the majority of its runtime, although, the high anticipation of the verbal sword fighting between characters acts more like cinematic action pieces than narrative adrenaline, something The Newsroom does without trying.
As the stress along with the cat-and-mouse games between Sloane and her adversaries unfolds, many questions arise, that are rarely answered, which is frustrating for a viewer. More than anything, one of the most aggravating aspects of Miss Sloane is a lack of empathy or history behind the protagonist’s main ambitions. Sloane, a woman who shares nothing with her peers and amongst her employees, shares a very routine life that sees her eating at the same restaurant each and every night, while her main emotional connection/release is burdened to a very inquisitive and highly curious male escort named Forde (Jake Lacy). The interactions between Forde and Sloane are amongst the best in the film, easily giving audiences a mild understanding of Sloane’s psyche, even when audiences question whether or not a high-stakes lobbyist would actually share such delicate and classified information with, essentially, a high end male prostitute.
As the screw turns slowly on this story of deceit and manipulation, it becomes clear that anyone and anyone is a pawn in the very damaging game Miss Sloane is playing. Cutting off relationships, friendships and people with the blink of an eye, Chastain’s portrayal of an emotionally damaged and voided social individual is quite spot on. Closing in on resourceful counter-measures, Miss Sloane is constantly questioning her moral and ethical means to winning, while many of the supporting characters, most notably, Rodolfo, bring Elizabeth back to Earth, and ground her intentions of winning and the many choices she make to appear and come out victorious.
While professions and government professionals are questioned, surprised and many times, reduced to nothing, Miss Sloane relies heavily on its conclusion and final scenes, to surprise audiences with unbelievable revelations about characters that not only give the film immunity but the time the closing credits roll along, but also make the unbelievable, believable.
It’s no surprise at all that Chastain was director John Madden’s first and only choice for the role of Elizabeth Sloane, given Chastain’s immense cinematic history to command the screen, annihilate dialogue and most of all, spew confidence like no one else in cinema today. As the fiery final moments being to close in on Miss Sloane, it becomes clear that sometimes winning, means losing everything, as long as the point you are trying to prove is proven, and the people you are trying to destroy, are destroyed, even if it means destroying yourself in the process. Miss Sloane is a textural portrait of a woman who, we don’t really understand, nor do we really believe, only someone we fear; someone we marvel at when victorious and most of all, envy, for their brazen and brash confidence. It may never be something we see in ourselves, but something we cannot deny Chastain brings everything to the role in a very data-streamed and informational drama.
Night Film Reviews: 6.5 Out of 10 Stars.
What did you think of Miss Sloane? Highly engaging or overly-drastic political thriller with too much to say? How do you compare it to one of our all-time fav lobbyist films Thank You for Smoking? Better or worse? Is is comparable to The Newsroom? Leave your inner lobbyist thoughts below if you want to lobby for this film.